“Falling in love is easy, but daily love turns out to be harder than expected.”
In the introduction to Judy Ford’s newest book, Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other, that quote becomes the backdrop for the book’s numerous examples of the challenges couples face in trying to maintain a loving relationship. As a nationally recognized family counselor with over 25 years’ experience studying love relationships, the publisher shares that the author “specializes in love, loss, and the things that matter most.”
This thought-provoking book points out that everyday love in particular is “the combination of attitudes and actions that satisfies, supports, and sustains.” Not a trouble-free skill to master when we find it easier to point out those little things about our partners that annoy and irritate us rather than celebrate their positive qualities. Unfortunately, the tendency to focus on negative traits and idiosyncrasies frequently robs our memories of all that is good about our loving relationships. Every Day Love is successful in restoring them to the forefront where they rightly belong. If you believe as the author does, that we are all born with the capacity to love and that that capacity weakens if not developed, practiced, and used, you are well prepared to begin a journey of self-reflection, as the purpose of this book seems to be.
Each of the book’s 10 chapters has multiple subchapters on specific relationship matters that are only a few pages in length but contain a wealth of observations from Ford’s career as a counselor. Each subchapter is then followed by “Love Lessons” – a total of 72 in the book – listing ways in which the ideas that were presented can be implemented or are simply restated to drive home the point being made. Although most are designed to get you thinking more self-reflectively, there are some instances where the lesson is a writing exercise to be done along with your sweetheart, as she frequently calls that someone special in your life. Ford refers to these Love Lessons as assignments and she has been providing them to her clients for years as “opportunities for bringing out the best in you and for seeing your partner with renewed appreciation.” A “conversation toolbox” appearing later in the book provides you with a collection of phrases to use that will make heart-to-heart conversations with the man or woman in your life “easier and sweeter.”
It is Ford’s belief that we hope the other person in our relationship will change so we don’t have to. I have no doubt that the vast majority of people don’t even realize they feel this way, or if they do they have become so accustomed to their knee-jerk reactions in recurring situations that the proverbial thorn in their side has become comfortably uncomfortable. It is so much simpler, perhaps because it has become second nature over time, to go with what first comes to mind when our partner does or does not do or say something how or when we expect them to. These are the times when the opportunity presents itself to look inward to discover how we can “respond differently” and subsequently nurture it in order to facilitate the desired change.
In one example, the author relates the story of a couple she was counseling in which the husband always embellished the stories he told and the wife continually corrected him with the facts. At dinner with three other couples one night, she corrected her husband and the laughter at the table stopped. After an awkward silence, someone leaned over to her and told her that it was okay, they didn’t take her husband’s stories seriously. In what one can imagine had to have been a highly embarrassing moment for her, the incident made her realize not only how controlling she was but how seriously she took everything as well. Those realizations caused her to lighten up and let go of the need to be right. The result? Affection between them became easy.
Those who read Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other in search of a way to bring back the fun and joy of being in love may be successful if you to take to heart what you learn and put that knowledge into action in the spirit of caring for and about each other. Out of the many Love Lessons, one that communicates the essence of this book is this: “The only relationship impasse that can’t be solved is when one partner is unwilling to look deeper and participate in creating a solution.” Whether an impasse is acknowledged by one partner or both, the sheer presence of it can take a toll on the health of a relationship and, taken a step further, possibly the couple’s own physical health and mental well-being as well. For those reasons alone, learning how to better care for your relationship should be a high priority and the time you invest in reading and practicing Every Day Love will be time well spent, producing a good return on your investment.
Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other
By Judy Ford
Viva Editions: October 2010
Paperback, 200 pages